Meet Detroit Lions GM candidate: What has Scott Pioli learned from rocky stint with Chiefs?

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
| Detroit Free Press

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The Detroit Lions are expected to interview a wide range of candidates for both their head coach and general manager jobs. They began GM interviews in early December and are expected to continue talking to candidates for both positions into early 2021. As part of an ongoing series, here is a look at one known candidate on the Lions’ list:

Scott Pioli

Current role: NFL Network analyst.

Background: Pioli was Bill Belichick’s sidekick with the New England Patriots for nine seasons, and ran the personnel department for the early stages of that organization’s dynasty. He spent four seasons as Kansas City Chiefs GM, where he inherited a 2-14 team and made the playoffs two seasons later. Pioli flamed out in 2012, amid issues of distrust in the organization, then spent six seasons as a personnel executive with the Atlanta Falcons, where people there said he made a concerted effort to learn from his mistakes. This fall, Pioli has worked as an analyst for NFL Network and CBS.

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When interviewed: Week of Dec. 21.

Why he makes sense: There are not many football men who have a more a proven eye for talent than Pioli. He left the New York Jets to join Belichick in New England in 2000 and was deeply involved in building that franchise into the envy of the NFL. A three-time Super Bowl champ as an executive, Pioli has experience running his own shop and plenty of deep connections across the league. People who have worked with Pioli in recent years swear he has learned from his mistakes, and he did seek out advice from other top leaders throughout sports. In his four drafts, he had both big-time hits (Eric Berry, Justin Houston in Round 3) and costly misses (Tyson Jackson, Jonathan Baldwin). 

Previous candidates covered:

• Why Louis Riddick makes sense — and why he doesn’t

• Pros and cons of ex-Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff

• Pros and cons of ex-Texans GM Rick Smith

What Lance Newmark would bring to the table as man in charge

Why he doesn’t: There is no debating how big of a disaster Pioli’s time in Kansas City was, with one high-ranking former staff member telling the Kansas City Star in a damning 2012 story that “the level of paranoia was probably the highest that I had ever seen it anywhere.” That does not sound like the type of building the Lions want to run, especially not after things went so wrong under Matt Patricia the past three seasons. Pioli probably does not get enough credit for his work in New England, because Belichick and Tom Brady are future Hall of Famers. Right or wrong, hiring another ex-Patriot would be a PR nightmare for the Lions.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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